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Serial Dater: What It Is, 38 Signs to See One & Why Serial Dating Sucks

A serial dater could be the next person to break your heart. Spot the signs and know exactly what you’re getting into before you make a mistake. 

serial dating

If you’re not sure what a serial dater is, it’s when someone goes out on countless dates but never really gets into a relationship. They’re either incapable of commitment or something’s seriously wrong with them. This is why it’s important to spot serial dater signs before you take the relationship further and end up falling for them.

Now, if someone is straight-up honest with you and tells you they’re not interested in a relationship, that’s fine. But a serial dater doesn’t tend to do that. They get a thrill out of the whole dating game.

As such, they’re more likely to be dishonest or simply keep their intentions quiet. In some cases, they might not even realize what they’re doing in the first place! [Read: Modern dating woes: 20 pitfalls of being a serial dater]

Is a serial dater the same as a player?

It can be confusing to differentiate between a serial dater and a player. A serial dater is a type of player that doesn’t plan to commit to one person for a prolonged period. They don’t limit themselves to just one person, usually because of their commitment or abandonment issues.

Both serial daters and players often hide their fear of rejection and abandonment by breaking up with you first before you can do it to them. They find power and amusement in their inability to commit, even if it means getting your hopes up and wasting your time and energy on dates.

They’ll use lines such as, “I’m not looking for anything serious right now” or “Let’s just take things casually.” If there’s one difference between a serial dater and a player, it’s that a serial dater is the way they are because there’s something significantly wrong. [Read: What makes someone a player? The 21 sly signs of a player’s mind]

Why do people become serial daters?

Serial daters are the ones who’ve experienced love and loss and are now trying to hack the system by using quantity to justify their search for quality. They will date and date, until they find their soulmate, or die trying.

They’ll get exhausted eventually, but that wouldn’t be enough to stop them from trying again.

Others are just in it for the security of having someone in their life, as opposed to the scary uncertainty of being single.

These people have never seen the light of a phone that has no new messages, so it’s scary for them to stay single for too long—thus they serially date. [Read: 42 secrets to be happy being single and lessons singledom can teach]

Is serial dating really that bad?

It depends on their motivations and reasons for engaging in serial dating. If they enjoy it and have no desire to settle down at all, then it’s probably okay to be a serial dater.

If, however, they start to feel like serial dating is a lifeline, there’s a need to re-evaluate the situation.

More often than not, it turns out to be a bad idea, because they end up devaluing the idea of dating, and are, in effect, turning it into a game of chance with no prize in sight.

The goal is to find the one that you want to settle down with, but people usually end up dating to the point of just settling for what’s available instead.

[Read: How to be happy alone and 20 reasons why relationships are overrated]

Why you should watch out for a serial dater

Why would you want to waste your time getting to know someone only to have them not want to pursue a relationship at all? It’s not only annoying, but it’s also rude. Obviously, if the person has something very undesirable about them, you can’t really call it a waste of time—you didn’t know.

However, there are some ways to tell if the person you’re talking to or going out with is a serial dater. Pay attention to these serial dater signs and you might end up saving yourself a lot of time. [Read: Warning signs to look out for on the first few dates]

1. They want to go on a date ASAP

Most serial daters want to date as much as possible. They’re not really there to get to know you so they’ll probably want to go for the date right away. They really don’t care about taking things slow and getting to know you first.

They’ll skip steps just to get to the date part of your connection since that’s all that matters for a serial dater. If you find that after only a couple conversations they want a real date, they could be a serial dater.

2. They avoid deep conversation

Serial daters just want to date. They don’t want to get to know you, and that means they’ll avoid meaningful conversations. Most likely, they’ll keep the conversation simple. They’ll stick to light and easy conversations, such as small talk and topics that prevent intimacy and connection.

You’ll especially be able to tell if this is the case if you try to talk about more complex matters and they just joke about it or change the conversation altogether. [Read: 45 tips and topics to keep a conversation going with a girl and get her to hang out]

3. You don’t know more than surface-level information about them

They never ask you personal and meaningful questions and they also never share personal things about themselves.

So if you’re wondering what the serial dater signs are, this is a pretty important one. If they’re keeping you at arm’s length with such effort and dedication, it’s because they don’t want to build a connection with you.

4. They won’t discuss their feelings for you

Why would they? Commitment isn’t in their nature, and you can’t change the facts. They might mention how they think you’re great and how good-looking you are but do you know how they truly feel about you?

If not, they could avoid discussing it because they don’t want a relationship or anything deeper than a casual fling. [Read: Do men have feelings? Why they act like they don’t care]

5. They only ever want to have fun

Their mission is to only have fun. If you find yourself wanting more and craving dates that are more intimate emotionally, you might be with a serial dater.

Dating them will never provide you with any emotional or mental intimacy just because they go out of their way to avoid that from happening. On all their dates, they just want to have fun. [Read: Casual relationship – 80 casual dating tips and rules to not get hurt or attached]

6. They’re focused on your physical relationship

You can have a really great physical relationship with someone who only ever wants to date and never get serious. This is because that’s all they want. Since they can’t give you other forms of intimacy, it’s physical intimacy they mainly focus on providing you.

This is so you’ll be satisfied in keeping things casual without the emotional ties, but it’s never enough. So don’t be surprised if a serial dater is good in bed—it’s the only thing they have to give you, after all. [Read: 17 sordid signs you’re just a hookup and nothing more]

7. They’re very charming

People who only ever date are really good at it; they have tons of practice, after all. Their charisma is something they’re very good at showing people, which is why their dates tend to be really fond of them.

Little do they know that they’re dating someone incapable of commitment. Of course, anyone can be charming, so you have to be really sure they’re a serial dater before you accuse them of being one. [Read: How to be charming – 15 adorable habits of really likeable people]

8. They always have a comeback

They’re very witty. This helps them dodge any personal questions with fun comebacks so you can’t tell they really just don’t want to answer the questions.

Their ability to come up with comebacks helps them avoid sharing personal details with you. If the person you’re dating is super witty and seems to sidestep serious topics with humor, they probably aren’t looking for a relationship.

9. They make lofty promises

And they’ll very rarely, if ever, follow through with them. Meaning, they might tell you they’ll take you to all these amazing places and plan for incredible dates far off in the future but they don’t come through.

Making false promises that make you hope for any kind of commitment with them is one of the many serial dater signs you should be wary of. For them, these are simply words that they have no intention of following through with. [Read: 19 life quotes to motivate you to live a better life]

10. They often talk about keeping things “casual”

They just love saying the word ‘casual’ to their dates, just because it’s all they ever look for. Serial daters don’t go on dates like other people, e.g. to look for a potential relationship. One of the key signs is when they look for something strictly casual with every date.

It doesn’t matter how great that person was; they still want to keep it casual. If you hear this a lot, they’re probably a serial dater. [Read: How long should you casually date someone before it gets serious?]

11. They don’t communicate much when you’re not together

Meaning, if you text them a lot and don’t get many responses, they could be a serial dater. This is because they don’t want to be trapped into talking about deep subjects that can often come up when you text someone for a long time.

They know how attached people can get when they communicate frequently, so they’re just trying to avoid getting into that kind of mess. Prevention is better than cure, especially in this case. [Read: 42 signs you’re not ready for a serious relationship and how to let them know]

12. They’re into big gestures

When trying to spot a serial dater, watch for the big gestures even at an early stage. This is because they want to land a date with you right away, so they make any desperate attempt they can to speed things up to land that date with you.

So if you find they’re exaggerating their romantic gestures and doing it at an early stage, be wary.

13. They play the victim

Whether during your date or a conversation, they’ll play the victim by always acting like they’re in the wrong. If you ask why they’ve never had a long-term relationship before, they’ll never admit to being a serial dater at first.

Instead, they’ll say they had a crazy ex, or it’s everyone’s fault but theirs. This is one of the classic serial dater signs you should watch out for. [Read: 42 signs and ways to see manipulative behavior and stop being used by people]

14. They’re attention-seekers

Serial daters seek attention in the most absurd ways. Maybe it’s asking for sympathy or pretending they’re feeling down just to get noticed.

This is a tactic to get the attention of several people with the potential of dating each one of them. Their attention-seeking moves are also how they immediately land a date with you *by playing the guilt card*.

15. They intentionally make the relationship stagnant

One of the worst things is when a relationship becomes stale, and there’s no growth at all. However, serial daters do this intentionally so that you end up giving up on the relationship entirely.

Since they’re afraid of commitment, this is their way of sabotaging your relationship before it even starts. When it’s stagnant, then you don’t get attached as much as in a normal relationship. [Read: How to play a guy at his own game and 40 ways to beat a player in style]

16. They use flowery words

Whether it’s in the form of compliments, romantic words, or bringing out their hopeless romantic side, they will show this side of themselves to you so that you willingly go on a date with them.

Maybe it’s telling you how you had such an impact on their lives and how happy you make them. But these are words they don’t mean.

17. They never stick to a relationship for a prolonged period

It’s normal to have dated other people before unless you’ve never had a relationship before or you’re a serial dater. For them, it’s either they just got out of a relationship, or they’ve never committed to a single person in their life.

This is such an obvious red flag for you – the fact that they’ve never experienced any kind of serious relationship. [Read: He won’t commit but he won’t let go. What should you do now?]

18. Your friends and family don’t like them

It’s easy to get blinded by the person you’re dating, which is where our friends and family come into significance. If your date seems like the perfect person, as if they’re too good to be true, that’s because they are.

There’s something about them that appears off, and your loved ones clearly see those signs. You should listen to them, as they’re probably on the right track. [Read: 21 secret signs of a bad relationship that signal a bad future ahead]

What are the most common pitfalls of being a serial dater?

Of course, you might be reading this because you suspect that you might be a serial dater yourself. In that case, well done for doing some solid introspection. It’s the first step to changing your ways.

But if you want to change, you need to know why serial dating isn’t the best way forward.

In order to fully understand the risks of serial dating, here are some of the frequently encountered problems and disadvantages of every serial dater. [Read: 20 relationship problems that push a couple apart or bring them closer]

1. Wasted time

Dating takes up time and resources. You’re better off focusing on more important matters while entertaining prospects during the weekends.

2. Too many failed dates

Failing one too many times can take its toll on a person. You start to feel dejected, which will definitely affect your outlook on dating. [Read: Signs you’re ruining your first date unknowingly]

3. Too many rejections

Dating too many people opens you up to getting rejected frequently. The continuous slew of rejections might end up affecting the way you look at yourself. [Read: Why do girls reject me? 40 reasons and the best ways to respond to a rejection]

4. Unfulfilling sex

The only thing worse than bad sex is bad sex with someone you don’t care about. It feels empty, and can even leave a souvenir like the next two items below.

5. STD risk

The only way to avoid this completely is by being abstinent. Let’s face it. That’s not an option for the majority of the population, especially serial daters. [Read: STDs 101 – The most common types and their symptoms]

6. Unplanned pregnancies

This is the worst possible outcome for a serial dater; you’re trying to avoid commitment and it’s landed firmly in your lap.

7. Cannot function without a significant other

You’ll start to get used to the idea of dating at least one person all the time. You won’t know what to do with yourself when you run out of choices.

8. Being too dependent on the situation

You start to feel incomplete without anyone’s attention. Being alone starts to become painful, and the only way to stop it is to go out with someone again. [Read: How to stop being needy – why people get clingy and 32 ways to fix it]

9. The need for validation

Going on more and more dates means you’re still hot. You’re still attractive, wanted and, in some weird delusional way, loved.

10. Dating people who know each other

This sucks when you have to explain how you know each other, and what exactly happened between the two of you. It gets worse when you end up working together.

11. Dating someone your friend dated

You inadvertently broke the girl or guy code, and you’re going to have a hell of a time making up for it with your BFFs. [Read: Ultimate reasons to never date a friend’s ex]

12. Desensitization

As you continue to see or sleep with other people, the excitement and awe start to dwindle, until there’s nothing left but lazy indifference.

13. Your standards get confused with comparisons

You start out with a clear set of standards in mind, but it ends up changing every time you find someone better or worse than the last person you dated.

14. Perseverance turns into desperation

There’s a difference between being an optimist and being stubborn. When it’s clear that the system isn’t working in your favor, you’re supposed to change your strategy and regroup. [Read: 23 needy signs and ways to stop being too available for your partner]

15. Getting caught in various love traps

Love traps are expectations of relationships that never work out. They are clichéd versions of relationships that most people try to pass off as the real deal.

16. Forgetting the joys of being single

Everyone has the capacity to be happy, especially single people. Some of the joys we find in loving ourselves can sometimes be better than the temporary gratification of unfulfilling relationships. [Read: Single for life – Enjoy the ride and find the one along the way]

17. Annoying your friends with your baseless relationships

Of course, you’re going to tell your friends about your failed date. And the last failed date, and the one before that, and so on, and so forth.

It gets old when the same story keeps getting told in a short amount of time. Seriously.

18. Never staying long enough to see a good thing through

When you reject a person before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves, you miss out on actually finding someone who’s perfect for you, because you chose to see only the bad. You didn’t wait long enough for the good to come out. [Read: Once dated twice shy? Here’s why you need date two!]

19. Losing sight of what you really want

You get lost in the motions of dating, and then you start to forget the reason why you started. You start living date-to-date. And you stop looking at the end goal because you’re too focused on dreading the next date. [Read: 50 questions to ask if someone’s right for you]

20. Not loving yourself enough to wait for the one who’ll love you more

Maybe you date too many people too quickly because you’re looking to fill a hole that necessitates the validation and attention of another human being.

The truth is that you’re the only person who can fill that hole. Nobody else. [Read: How to find the right person for you when you’ve given up hope]

What are your options?

If you feel you may be a serial dater, the number one option for you is to stop and take a beat. You don’t need to be a serial dater in order to find the person who can make your dreams come true. If it’s love that you want, you need to start with yourself.

Reflect on what made your past relationships fail. Learn from your mistakes. Pinpoint the red flags that you missed. Take some time alone to gather your thoughts.

Even a month without any communication can open your eyes to a lot of truths as to why you constantly date people without finding one who matters.

Therapy also helps, so don’t be afraid to get professional advice. The best plan, however, is for you to take a breather and try to date yourself for a while.

You might find out what you don’t like about yourself, but this will help you find out why you’re such an amazing person as well. [Read: How to find your soulmate – 35 real ways to find your one true love]

Have you ever encountered a serial dater?

A serial dater is incapable of commitment, which is why they never stick to just one person or relationship for very long. They’ll do everything in their capacity to land a date with you, even if it’s through desperate measures.

Now you know the signs, steer clear of them at all costs! And if you feel you are one, take some time to work things out. There’s a better way out there.

[Read: Narcissist relationship – 36 signs, how it feels, patterns, and how to end it]

You’ll want to pay attention when you start dating someone so you don’t end up with a serial dater. If you resonate with most or all of these signs, it’s better to walk away than hurt yourself in the long run.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...